Freedom of Expression news from Sri Lanka / April – May 2010

Compiled by a group of journalists working voluntarily

Released by Mediafreedom in Sri Lanka



1.    April/May 2010    – No killings of  journalists/media workers were reported


2. April/May 2010    – No abduction of  journalists/media workers were reported


3.    April/May 2010    – No arrests  of  journalists/media workers were reported


4. 05 May 2010       – Daily Mirror journalist assaulted

Senior Daily Mirror journalist Sandun A. Jayasekera was yesterday assaulted by some officers of the Presidential Security Division (PSD) in military uniform when he was covering an event attended by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Maharagama Cancer Hospital. According to Mr. Jayasekara the security officers had not allowed him to enter the premises to cover the event despite receiving an official invitation by the president’s media unit.

5. 30 May.2010       – Lanka newspaper journalists attackers

A journalist working for the ‘Lanka’  newspaper who was campaigning for an art festival in Moneragala was assaulted by a group of thugs headed by a regional politician in the area this evening, Lanka Editor Chandana Sirimalwatte told Daily Mirror online.     Sirimalwatte added that after the journalist was attacked his mobile phone was taken away. The assault had taken place after the journalist had taken a photograph of the vehicle the thugs had used.

Threats/Harassments :

6. 01 April 2010      – Minister threatens Jaffna editor

Douglas Devananda, a minister in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet and the leader of the paramilitary-cum-political party Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP), has publicly warned the editor of Yarl Thinakural K. Vamathevan and its administrative manager A. Nadarajah for having published front page news on the attack on Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) candidate Ankajan, stating that the reporting has negatively affected election propaganda for his party besides damaging his reputation.

7. 05 April 2010      – Provincial correspondent threatened by politician

Wasantha Chandrapala,a provincial correspondent of the Daily Mirror newspaper lodged a complaint with the Ampara police  claiming he was threatened over the phone by the former Director of the Civil Defence Force Rear Admiral (Rtd) Sarath Weerasekera. Wasantha Chandrapala had contacted Sarath Weerasekera to get a comment over an incident in Ampara when he was allegedly threatened.

8. 06 April 2010      – Fasting monks evicted, journalists harassed

Fort police evcted  a group monks who were on a fast unto death opposite the Fort Railway station to urge the government to release retired General Sarath Fonseka from detention. Journalists covering the scene were also harassed by the police. A photo journalist who was also subjected to harassment said he was grabbed by his shirt by policemen who used abusive language.

9. 21 April 2010      – Daily Mirror online team threatened

A Daily Mirror online team in Kandy to cover the General Elections repoll were followed and video taped by a provincial journalist on the instructions of the Nawalapitiya police, according to him, and even threatened the media team from Colombo.

10. 21 May 2010       – Defense secretary against Sunday Leader

The Mount Lavinia Additional District Judge yesterday fixed for ex- parte trial the case filed by the Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa claiming a sum of one billion rupees from ˜The Sunday Leader and its Publisher for publication of  a news item defamatory of the Defence Secretary.

11. 30 May 2010      – Two NGOS under attack

Pro government Sinhala weekly Irida Lankadeepa published a front page lead story saying Two NGOs working hard to stop GSP + concessions to Sri Lanka. Although the newspaper didn’t mention the NGOs by name  it is believed that newspaper story  was hinting about  Colombo based leading policy advocacy NGOs.


12. 03 May 2010       – Newspaper closed as proprietors left for safety

Siyatha, Sinhala language newspaper closed down as its proprietors have left the country for fear of reprisals. The newspaper was started by close associate of President Rajapaksha but the whole family left the country after they were informally accused of supporting opposition presidential candidate General Sarath Fonseka. Dozens of journalists and media workers lost their jobs as a result.

13. 03 April 2010      – Magazines Himal And The Economist Detained

The March issue if the Himal magazine and April 3 issue of The Economist were          detained by the Customs Department due to two articles published in the two     publications. The controversial article in Himal is a comparison of President Mahinda        Rajapaksa and the late President J.R. Jayewardene while The Economist article deals        with    funds allocated through NGOs for projects in Sri Lanka.

See also: Himal And Economist Detained Without Any Legal Authority at

14. 03 April 2010      – Writer probe for radical links

A Sri Lankan woman taken into custody last month for writing books about her          conversion to Islam for Buddhism is being investigated for possible links to Islamic     extremists, police said Saturday.Last weekend, police said the woman, identified as      Malini Perera, was taken into custody under tough emergency laws over allegations           of “anti-state” activities but they did not elaborate

15.  04 April 2010     – TNA should be banned – defense secretary

Recently, the influential Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said that the party should be banned because it was asking for a federal set up with police powers for the provinces. To add to this, Maithripala Sirisena, a ruling party heavyweight, backed Gotabaya.

16. 22 April 2010      – 3 media institutions not allowed to cover parliament

Popular Sinhala TV station Sirasa, popular Sinhala news web site lankaenews and Sinhala language newspaper Siyatha was not allowed to cover the opening ceremony of new parliament held on 22 April 2010.All these media institutions are considered as not favorable to ruling party by  its leaders.

17. 08 May 2010       – Defense ministry blocks media trainer

Sri Lanka Defence Ministry has blocked ‘Life Line’ resident advisor of ‘Internews’ Fiona Partol from coming to Jaffna to participate in a five-day training course for local media persons, media sources in Jaffna said. The Defence Ministry does not allow international media persons who are not supportive of the government to visit Jaffna and other areas in the North, the sources added. Recently a French journalist had been arrested and deported from Sri Lanka on the orders of Defence Ministry.


18. April 2010            – 6 Journalists and 5 media workers leave the country

Few days before the general election five journalists and five media workers left l Sri Lanka for various threats and intimidation.


19. April/ May 2010             – No released issued by local media organisations

No press releases on any FOE violations were issued by Sri Lanka media organisations during the period.

20. 22 April 2010      –  Post war Sri Lanka still dangerous for Journalists – CPJ

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in its 2010 Impunity Index, ranks Sri Lanka number four among countries around the world where journalists have been murdered on a regular basis without the killers being prosecuted.

21. 23 April 2010      – Gang boss as deputy media minister – RSF

“In what country do you appoint an arsonist to put out fires?” Reporters Without Borders asked today after learning that Mervyn Silva, a politician notorious for insulting and physically attacking journalists, has been appointed deputy minister of media and information.

22. 17 May 2010       – IFJ Urges Speedy Processing of Tissainayagam’s Pardon

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges Sri Lanka’s Government to speed up its processing of a full and unconditional presidential pardon for senior Tamil journalist J.S. Tissainayagam.

23. 25 May 2010       – Country going wrong – CPJ

CPJ has launched a new report, In Sri Lanka, No Peace Dividend for Press. It takes a close look at the media in Sri Lanka, one year after the government declared a decisive victory over Tamil secessionists that ended 30 years of bitter, often genuinely suicidal ethnic conflict. In the years running up to that victory, Sri Lankan journalists who had dared to criticize the government found themselves under serious attack — ten have been killed for their work in the last decade, and many others have been harassed, arbitrarily jailed, temporarily “disappeared,” or otherwise seriously harassed.


24. 18/May 2010      – Prageeth’s cartoon exhibition held

Cave arts of Prageeth Eknaligoda, journalist who disappeared on 24th December 2009 was held in Colombo on 18 and 19 May 2010. It was organized by Prageeth Eknaligoda Foundation.

Other FOE news:

25. 01 April 2010      – Guide lines for state media

The Supreme Court in Sri Lanka has directed the Election Commissioner to prepare a set of working guidelines for state media during elections. The directive by the Supreme Court (SC) requires election commissioner to prepare these guidelines that will force state media to act in a free and fair manner during the general election.

26. 01 April 2010      – Lasantha murder accused freed

Police in Sri Lanka say they have released 17 soldiers detained on suspicion of killing or attempting to kill journalists and editors. The men were accused of being involved in the 2009 murder of newspaper editor Lasantha Wickramatunga and for the other attacks on journalists. Police told a court that there was no evidence against the group of soldiers.But police say more soldiers are being questioned over the editor’s murder and other attacks on media personnel.The Colombo magistrate ordered the police to submit a report on the progress of the investigations.

27. 20 April 2010      – Convert Sarah Malini released on bail

The Buddhist convert to Islam, Sara, alias Malani Perera who had written two books about her conversion from Buddhism to Islam and was in detention on the orders of the Defence Secretary from March 19  was released today on bail of Rs 5000 cash with two sureties for Rs 50,000 each  by the Colombo Additional Magistrate Mrs. Praharsha S. Ranasinghe.

28. 23 April 2010      – Mervin Silva becomes deputy media minister ( later resigned)

Controversial Member of Parliament Mervyn Silva who was well know for his anti media stunts including the forceful entry into the state owned Rupavahini was sworn in today as the Deputy Media Minister before President Mahinda Rajapakse. ( He was made to resign under pressure form adverse publicly)

29. April 2010          – Petition seeks Prageeth’s release

A petition has been filed in Court seeking the “release” of missing freelance journalist and cartoonist of Lanka E-News Prageeth Ekniligoda. The Petitioners cited DIG Nandana Manasinghe of the CID, OIC of the Homagama Police, IGP Mahinda Balasooriya and the Attorney General as respondents.

30. 03 May 2010       – Tissanayagam pardoned

Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister, G.L. Peiris, announced at a press conference last week that President Mahinda Rajapakse had decided to grant a pardon to journalist J.S. Tissanayagam to mark World Press Freedom Day. Tissanayagam was convicted on trumped-up charges last August and sentenced to 20 years jail with hard labour in a decision that provoked outrage in Sri Lanka and internationally.

31. 08 May 2010       – Declaring assets not mandatory – media minister

Declaring assets and liabilities by journalists is not mandatory but it is optional, said Sri Lanka’s Minister for Media Keheliya Rambukwella after assuming the post. The government earlier declared that it is mandatory for journalists to declare their assets and liabilities.

32. 10 May 2010       – MTV attack suspects  released

The 14 suspects arrested over the recent attack on the MTV/MBC media office in Colombo were released on bail by the Colombo Fort Magistrate today. The suspects were earlier released on police bail but the Magistrate had reprimanded the police for doing so saying they should be presented in Court.

33. 14 May 2010       – Lasantha Murder, suspect further remanded

The case pertaining to the Assassination of veteran journalist Lasantha Wickremathunga was taken up again today before the Mount Lavinia magistrate’s court.The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) told court that they were conducting investigations based on telephone numbers received from five transmission towers. The magistrate further remanded the suspect, who had been arrested over the alleged theft of Lasantha Wickremathunga’s mobile phone, until the 26th of this month and ordered the CID to submit a detailed report on investigations on this date.

34. 26 May 2010       – Papers filed for Tissa release

An application has been filed for the withdrawal of an appeal filed by Senior Journalist J. S. Tissainayagam to process the Presidential pardon granted to him on the World Press Freedom Day on May 3.

35. 30 May 2010      – Exiled journalists are anti -country persons

Media minister Keheliya Rambukwells speaking to Sinhala language weekly Irida Lankadeepa said that he does not  want exiled journalists coming back to Sri Lanka as most of them are anti- country persons.

36. 30 May 2010       – 3rd death anniversary of slain Journalist held

Public organizations in Moo’laay in Jaffna observed Sunday the third death anniversary of Jaffna correspondent of Sakthi TV station, Paranirupasingam Thevakumar, 34, abducted while he was returning to his residence in Moo’laay and hacked to death in Kaakkaitheevu, a barren land near Naavaanthu’rai in Jaffna on 28 May 2008, in Ganesha Community Centre Hall in Moo’laay, sources in Jaffna said.

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